Fruitvale Station & Oscar Grant: Why Our Anger Is Necessary
“Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change…I cannot hide my anger to spare your guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own action or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt, but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence.” Audre Lorde
I watched Fruitvale Station this weekend. A movie, which highlights the events, that led up to the murder of Oscar Grant, by a Bart police officer in Oakland. To put it very simply the movie made me angry. It made me angry to think how we live in a system where black bodies continue to be devalued and dismantled. It made me angry to see a black man handcuffed on the ground shot dead in his own innocent blood. And it made me It made to angry to know that the story of Oscar Grant and the multitude of stories about black and brown people that have been murdered, are often forgotten, ignored, or attributed to their own individual mishaps, as we continue to ignore a larger systemic problem. If you have not seen Fruitvale Station, I encourage you to not only go see it, but also to know that anger partnered action is necessary if we wish to move this society to change.
I said this before and I will say it again.
“Anger”— The very thing that many see as destructive is actually a tool that can be equipped to unite people. As Ms. Lorde said, “Anger is a grief distortion between peers and its object is change.” There are many nicer ways to build movements. You can invite people over for tea and crumpets, give a nice slide show presentation on the history of urban poverty, and even get elite college students to teach in black and brown communities for 3 minutes at a time. The “object” of these various notions can be made into a litany of things that “make a difference” but don’t bring substantive and progressive change. They can also be seen as a means to make the privileged feel better about inequalities that lead to their success, they can be a means of appeasing guilt, they can even be a means of bringing multiple groups into the same space, but these are not a means to change.
Ultimately, the honesty and bluntness of anger provides an opportunity to confront the aspects of our history and of ourselves that make us most uncomfortable and most susceptible to change. It is this anger I hope to harness and use towards a creating and joining a movement of young people that will no longer be silent. Young people that are tired of hearing narratives that ignore history and structural barriers. Young people that can no longer be complacent as poor people continue to be misused, silenced, and murdered. I believe there is a movement being built, and I believe it will be youth led, through analysis and activism. Black Youth Project 100 is ready, and coming.